(1) GIVE ME A SIGN! Almost 16,000 people have signed the petition to “Save Star Trek Prodigy!” at Change.org. Here’s the text of the appeal:
Paramount+ have announced the cancellation of Star Trek Prodigy and have stated it will be removed from their streaming platform in the coming days. Their reasoning? It’s a tax write-off.
In a statement to TrekCore.com, Paramount stated that, “Star Trek: Prodigy will not be returning for the previously announced second season. On behalf of everyone at Paramount+, Nickelodeon and CBS Studios, we want to thank Kevin and Dan Hageman, Ben Hibon, Alex Kurtzman and the Secret Hideout team, along with the fantastic cast and crew for all their hard work and dedication bringing the series to life.”
That’s right. Not only are they not moving forward with the show and removing the first season from their platform, but the second season (due to be completed) will not air unless picked up by another buyer.
Paramount have long mistreated the loyalty and generosity of Trek fans, but this feels like a gut punch; the final nail in the coffin of goodwill.
Money talks, but so do fans and we can’t let this beautiful show go without a fight!
And CinemaBlend pointed to this tweet: “Star Trek: Prodigy Petition Hits Milestone As Anson Mount Joins Fans In Supporting The Canceled Series”.
(2) A MILESTONE IN HORROR. The New York Times commemorates Shirley Jackson’s story in “75 Years After ‘The Lottery’ Was Published, the Chills Linger”. Stephen King, Carmen Maria Machado, Tananarive Due, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay and others tell how this classic first got under their skin.
Author, “The Pallbearers Club”
I’ve reread “The Lottery” many times and remain haunted by the possibilities and ambiguity in the final line uttered by the doomed Mrs. Hutchinson: “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right.” Is she simply the victim of blind chance? Did she believe the lottery was fixed so that her name would come up? Was it supposed to have been fixed for her name not to be chosen? Is she decrying the entire lottery, the social/political system and its ugly inherent injustices? Is it existence itself that is unfair and not right? All great stories wrestle with that last question.
(3) DEATH BY ONE STARS. The New York Times investigates “How Review-Bombing Can Tank a Book Before It’s Published”.
Cecilia Rabess figured her debut novel, “Everything’s Fine,” would spark criticism: The story centers on a young Black woman working at Goldman Sachs who falls in love with a conservative white co-worker with bigoted views.
But she didn’t expect a backlash to strike six months before the book was published.
In January, after a Goodreads user who had received an advanced copy posted a plot summary that went viral on Twitter, the review site was flooded with negative comments and one-star reviews, with many calling the book anti-Black and racist. Some of the comments were left by users who said they had never read the book, but objected to its premise.
“It may look like a bunch of one-star reviews on Goodreads, but these are broader campaigns of harassment,” Rabess said. “People were very keen not just to attack the work, but to attack me as well.”
In an era when reaching readers online has become a near-existential problem for publishers, Goodreads has become an essential avenue for building an audience. As a cross between a social media platform and a review site like Yelp, the site has been a boon for publishers hoping to generate excitement for books.
But the same features that get users talking about books and authors can also backfire. Reviews can be weaponized, in some cases derailing a book’s publication long before its release.
“It can be incredibly hurtful, and it’s frustrating that people are allowed to review books this way if they haven’t read them,” said Roxane Gay, an author and editor who also posts reviews on Goodreads. “Worse, they’re allowed to review books that haven’t even been written. I have books on there being reviewed that I’m not finished with yet.”…
(4) FRAZETTA IS BIG BUSINESS. [Item by Arnie Fenner.] Frazetta’s cover painting for Karl Edward Wagner’s 1976 novel Dark Crusade set a new record, selling for $6m at Heritage. It became better known when Ellie Frazetta licensed it in 1979 to Molly Hatchet to use as the album jacket for Flirtin’ With Disaster.” “Frank Frazetta’s ‘Dark Kingdom’ Sells For $6 Million to Rule the Record Books at Heritage Auctions”.
Also, you’ll find this fun: Frazetta’s daughter Holly and granddaughter Sara under their Frazetta Girls imprint have released a light-up Death Dealer keychain.
(5) FROM A POE FAMILY. Publishers Weekly’s Mark Dawidziak says these are the “10 Essential Edgar Allan Poe Short Stories”. First on the list:
1. “The Tell-Tale Heart”
Is it a crime story? A horror tale? It’s both, of course, and it’s also a chilling masterpiece that finds Poe brilliantly prowling the murky boundary between obsession and madness. As the author’s “dreadfully nervous” narrator tells us how an old man’s filmy “pale blue eye” drives him to murder, Poe gives us a master class in establishing mood, building suspense, and maintaining pace, all while expertly employing wonderfully specific gradations of light and sound. Not just a remarkably constructed model for the short story form, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a near-perfect monologue, with Poe, the son of actors, displaying his ever-keen sense of the dramatic. He tells us just what we need to know, leaving enough unexplained that we continue to speculate about the characters long after the histrionic “tear up the planks” climax. Small wonder this chilling 1843 tale has remained a classroom favorite and a popular performance piece.
(6) HE’S AN AWFUL ISTANBULLY. Gizmodo is pleased that “1973’s ‘Turkish Spider-Man’ Film Now Has an HD Documentary”.
Film historian Ed Glaser, who previously found the last 35mm print of The Man Who Saves the World (aka, “the Turkish Star Wars”) has released another mini-documentary for his “Deja View” series. This one focuses on the interestingly named 3 Dev Adam—alternatively known as either 3 Giant Men or Captain America & Santo vs. Spider-Man. The big claim to fame for this movie is that it’s “the world’s first comic book crossover film,” well before the MCU or any imitators came onto the scene. Its other big boast is that its version of Spider-Man lives up to everything J. Jonah Jameson’s ever said about him, because he’s a menace and genuine villain who requires two heroes to team up and bring him down….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2014 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Eugie Foster had a phenomenal life before it was tragically cut short when she died at Emory University Hospital on September 27, 2014 from respiratory failure, a complication of treatments for large B-cell lymphoma, with which she was diagnosed on October 15, 2013. So now I’m depressed, and you should be too.
She was the managing editor for The Fix and Tangent Online, two online short fiction review magazines. She was also a director for Dragon Con and edited the Daily Dragon, their onsite newsletter.
She’s here because of her amazing short stories which were nominated for a lot of Awards including “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” which nominated for an Hugo at Aussiecon 4. It did win a Nebula and was nominated for a BSFA as well.
And that brings us to our Beginning take from her short story , “When it Ends, He Catches Her by” which was nominated for a Nebula and a Sturgeon. It was first published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2014.
And now for the Beginning…
The dim shadows were kinder to the theater’s dilapidation. A single candle to aid the dirty sheen of the moon through the rent beams of the ancient roof, easier to overlook the worn and warped floorboards, the tattered curtains, the mildew-ridden walls. Easier as well to overlook the dingy skirt with its hem all ragged, once purest white and fine, and her shoes, almost fallen to pieces, the toes cracked and painstakingly re-wrapped with hoarded strips of linen. Once, not long ago, Aisa wouldn’t have given this place a first glance, would never have deigned to be seen here in this most ruinous of venues. But times changed. Everything changed.
Aisa pirouetted on one long leg, arms circling her body like gently folded wings. Her muscles gathered and uncoiled in a graceful leap, suspending her in the air with limbs outflung, until gravity summoned her back down. The stained, wooden boards creaked beneath her, but she didn’t hear them. She heard only the music in her head, the familiar stanzas from countless rehearsals and performances of Snowbird’s Lament. She could hum the complex orchestral score by rote, just as she knew every step by heart.
Act II, scene III: the finale. It was supposed to be a duet, her as Makira, the warlord’s cursed daughter, and Balege as Ono, her doomed lover, in a frenzied last dance of tragedy undone, hope restored, rebirth. But when the Magistrate had closed down the last theaters, Balege had disappeared in the resultant riots and protests.
So Aisa danced the duet as a solo, the way she’d had to in rehearsal sometimes, marking the steps where Balege should have been. Her muscles burned, her breath coming faster. She loved this feeling, her body perfectly attuned to her desire, the obedient instrument of her will. It was only these moments that she felt properly herself, properly alive. The dreary, horrible daytime with its humiliations and ceaseless hunger became the dream. This dance, here and now, was real. She wished it would never end.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 26, 1929 — Wally Weber, 94. Cry of the Nameless co-editor when it won Best Fanzine; next year chaired the 19th Worldcon (called “Seacon”, being in Seattle; the 37th was “Seacon ’79” being by the sea; not my fault). In SAPS and the N3F (edited one ish of Tightbeam). TAFF delegate 1963. W.W.W. collection published by Burnett Toskey 1975 (hello, Orange Mike). Has been seen, or at least photographed, in a propeller beanie. (John Hertz)
- Born June 26, 1950 — Tom DeFalco, 73. Comic book writer and editor, mainly known for his Marvel Comics and in particular for his work with the Spider-Man line. He designed the Spider-Girl character which was his last work at Marvel as he thought he was being typecast as just a Spider-Man line writer. He’s since been working at DC and Archie Comics.
- Born June 26, 1954 — James Van Pelt, 69. Here for the phenomenal number of nominations that he has had though no Awards have accrued. I count 26 nominations so far including a Sturgeon, a Nebula and, perhaps the longest named Award in existence, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer / Astounding Award for the Best New Science Fiction Writer. He has but two novels to date, Summer of the Apocalypse and Pandora’s Gun, but a really lot of short fiction, I think over a hundred pieces, and two poems.
- Born June 26, 1965 — Daryl Gregory, 58. He won a Crawford Award for his Pandemonium novel. And his novella, We Are All Completely Fine, won the World Fantasy Award and a Shirley Jackson Award as well. It was also a finalist for the Sturgeon Award. I’m also fond of his writing on the Planet of The Apes series that IDW published.
- Born June 26, 1969 — Austin Grossman, 54. Twin brother of Lev. And no, he’s not here just because he’s Lev’s twin brother. He’s the author of Soon I Will Be Invincible which is decidedly SF as well as You: A Novel (also called YOU) which was heavily influenced for better or worse by TRON and Crooked, a novel involving the supernatural and Nixon. He’s also a video games designed, some of which such as Clive Barker’s Undying and Tomb Raider: Legend are definitely genre.
- Born June 26, 1969 — Lev Grossman, 54. Most notable as the author of The Magicians Trilogy which is The Magicians, The Magician King and The Magician’s Land. Perennial bestsellers at the local indie bookshops. Understand it was made into a series which is yet another series that I’ve not seen. Opinions on the latter, y’all?
- Born June 26, 1980 — Jason Schwartzman, 43. He first shows up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as Gag Halfrunt, Zaphod Beeblebrox’s personal brain care specialist. (Uncredited initially.) He was Ritchie in Bewitched, and voiced Simon Lee in Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation. He co-wrote Isle of Dogs alongwith Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Kunichi Nomura. I think his best work was voicing Ash Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox.
- Born June 26, 1984 — Aubrey Plaza, 39. April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation which at least one Filer has insisted is genre. She voiced Eska in recurring role on The Legend of Korra which is a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. She was in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as Julie Powers, and was Lenny Busker on Legion.
(9) CREDIT CHECK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Roy Thomas, Stan Lee’s successor as editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics, has waded into the dustup surrounding the latest Lee documentary. Here he is with an editorial at The Hollywood Reporter. “Roy Thomas, Former Marvel Editor, Addresses Debate Over New Stan Lee Doc (Guest Column)”.
… The real question, I suppose, is whether he deserved his status as the major creator of the so-called Marvel Universe.
Gelb’s documentary wisely lets Stan himself narrate his story from start to finish. Virtually the only voice we hear during its 1½-hour length that speaks more than one or two sentences in a row is Stan’s, in extended sound bites harvested from a host of TV appearances, comics convention Q&A sessions, award ceremonies, previous documentaries, and radio guest shots — enlivened by the occasional deathless line of dialogue from one of his many late-life movie cameos.
This is a refreshing way to encounter Stan the Man, and Gelb and his producers (which include Marvel Studios) are to be congratulated for letting him tell his own tale his way. By and large, the effort is successful and entertaining … and, so far as I can tell from my long association with him (which includes writing a humongous “career biography” of him for Taschen Books in the 2010s), it presents a reasonably accurate portrait of the man as he saw himself, and as the world came to see him:
As arguably the most important comicbook writer since Jerry Siegel scribed his first “Superman” story back in the 1930s…
As the creator (or at the very least the co-creator) of a host of colorful super-heroes and related comics characters…
…And as the creator (or at least the major overseer and guiding light) of a four-color phenomenon that became known as the Marvel Universe, and which formed the underlying bulwark of the now-even-more-famous Marvel Cinematic Universe, the most successful series of interconnected motion pictures in the history of that medium.
But of course he didn’t do it alone … and that’s where all the mostly ill-considered criticisms of Stan Lee’s life and work begin to kick in.
As recorded in the film, simply because he often (not always, but often) fails to credit the artists he worked with, Stan often seems to be claiming full credit for milestones, be they the powerful Hate Monger yarn in Fantastic Four No. 21 or such concepts as the Hulk and the X-Men. This is partly just a verbal shorthand, yet it is also in accordance with his expressed belief that “the person who has the idea is the creator,” and that the artist he then chooses to illustrate that concept is not. In L.A. in the 1980s (admittedly, at a time when I was not working for him), I argued that very point with him one day over lunch, maintaining that an artist who rendered and inevitably expanded that original idea was definitely a co-creator. I made no headway with my past and future employer. And clearly, when he wrote his celebrated letter, quoted in the doc, that he had “always considered Steve Ditko to be the co-creator of Spider-Man,” he was doing so only to try to mollify Steve and those who might agree with him. Later, he admitted as much….
(10) IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. [Item by Dann.] Kids from a certain era…here I go dating myself again…will recall the jungle gyms that populated American playgrounds and schoolyards. These were fabrications of steel pipes set perpendicularly to create cubes of space for kids to climb and explore. The “jungle gym” was originally patented by Sebastian Hinton.
Sebastian got the idea from his father, Charles Howard Hinton. Charles was a British mathematician. He also was an author of science fiction. His interest was primarily in the so-called fourth dimension.
Charles constructed an early jungle gym out of bamboo for young Sebastian and his friends to use. Charles apparently thought that allowing children to play on three-dimensional equipment might enable them to develop the ability to perceive the fourth dimension. Spoiler – they didn’t.
(11) LAST GASPS. Live Science learned that “Dying stars build humongous ‘cocoons’ that shake the fabric of space-time”.
Since the first direct detection of the space-time ripples known as gravitational waves was announced in 2016, astronomers regularly listen for the ringing of black holes across the universe. Projects like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (better known as LIGO) have detected almost 100 collisions between black holes (and sometimes neutron stars), which shake up the fabric of the cosmos and send invisible waves rippling through space.
But new research shows that LIGO might soon hear another kind of shake-up in space: cocoons of roiling gas spewed from dying stars. Researchers at Northwestern University used cutting-edge computer simulations of massive stars to show how these cocoons may produce “impossible to ignore” gravitational waves, according to research presented this week at the 242nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Studying these ripples in real life could provide valuable insight into the violent deaths of giant stars….
(12) DISCUSSIONS ON FILM MUSIC BY COMPOSERS/ORCHESTRATORS/ AND WRITERS. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] This remarkable roundtable of composers and orchestrators assembled ten years ago for a sequence in the unfinished feature length motion picture documentary The Man Who “Saved” The Movies.
Pictured from left to right are acclaimed motion picture orchestrator Patrick Russ, Erwin Vertlieb, Emmy winning film and television composer/conductor Lee Holdridge, writer/film score musicologist Steve Vertlieb, and one of the most brilliant composers working in film today, the marvelous Mark McKenzie.
(13) PRESENTING THE BILL. “William Shatner Sings To George Lucas”.
William Shatner opens the 2005 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to George Lucas with a song performed the way only Shatner can perform it. Complete with backup Stormtrooper dancers and a cameos by Chewbacca!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Arnie Fenner, Dann, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]